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Turkey to ban democratic Islamic opposition

6. April 2009

Call for Solidarity

Demand for freedom cannot be sued!
Özgür-Der cannot be closed down!

The Turkish State files a legal action in court to close down Free Thought and Educational Rights Society (Özgür-Der), which primarily opposes to human rights violations in Turkey and protests the crimes against humanity all around the world on the Islamic grounds for 10 years.

Özgür-Der is an organization which has now 15 branches in numerous cities of Turkey, was founded in 1999 in a period of militarist pressures were strong over the society and politics, which was later called ‘postmodern coup’ to organize the reactions against the systematic pressures and state-enforced bans, especially the headscarf ban.
Özgür-Der campaigns for many social and political problems in Turkey such as restrictions and impositions in the field of education, the Kurdish problem and solitary confinement of the political prisoners in prisons. It is also a movement not only concerned with the problems in Turkey but also with the global tyranny; and in that respect which has organised wide range of activities including against the imperialist U.S.A’s occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Zionist aggression as well.

The administrators and the members of Özgür-Der have experienced oppression in different levels and from time to time have received threat-like warnings from prosecutors and police officers just because of their opposing attitudes so far. They have faced to many allegations owing to the meetings and statements they made in order to inform the public. And now the pressures have been taken one step forward and a legal action is filed in court to close down Özgür-Der, because of a declaration was made on 7th November 2008.

The declaration, titled as ‘Let us Boycott the Ceremonies in which our Faith and Identity is Humiliated and the State Ideology is Imposed!’, is one of the rings of the chain of demands that mainly aims promotion of respect for human rights in the sphere of education and to liberate the education system from the State ideology.

The declaration, which has the approval of the Özgür-Der, its branches and other organizations that supported the act, criticizes the fact that students in schools are imposed to militarist domination. The signatory organizations of the declaration also demand to abolish both the ceremonies held in the official celebrations and daily morning ceremonies before classes commanded with militaristic directions like singing anthems and swearing an oath. Moreover, in the declaration it is stated that these ceremonies, which aim at exalting and idolizing a leader, namely M. Kemal Atatürk, create oppressive atmosphere that harms the personalities of the children and the adolescents and broader sense feed racist and fascist inclinations. Additionally, it is stated in the declaration that this kind of ceremonies which has militarist characteristics and hence should not be considered part of the education, and the declaration also calls the parents not to send their children to these ceremonies.

Because of the demand for this fundamental right and freedom, Özgür-Der is accused and is wanted to be closed down. After the declaration was made, both the administrative centre of Özgür-Der, its branches and the other supporting organizations have been subjected to strong pressures: Governors made inspections more frequently and prosecutors launched inquiries. As a final blow, with the demand of Istanbul Governor who considered the declaration as ‘against the Constitution and the laws’, a suit to close down Özgür-Der has been brought to the court by Fatih prosecutor.

We regard this case, which will be heard on 29th April 2009 at 11.20 in Fatih 2. Court of First Instance, as an attack to the right of freedom of thought and organisation. Like our other similar demands for freedom and rights, we will continue to defend – as we have done so far – our demand to purify the education system in Turkey from secular and militarist impositions and oppressions. We consider the suit to close down our organization as another typical example of ideological oppression of the state and authoritarian intolerance in Turkey, and we call all the groups and organizations who are sensible to human rights and freedoms to follow this trial closely.